There's ghosts and ghouls and goblins...but this manga won't haunt the dreams of Castlevania fans.
Writer/Artist: Kou Sasakura
Translation: Ray Yoshimoto
Adaptation: Jeremy Black
What They Say:
In a small village near the Romanian border, young Ted waits for his father, a mercenary in the war against Count Dracula's demon army. Little does he know he is to become the center of a battle between two of the count's most powerful generals...
What We Say:
The cover for Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is attractive and instantly recognisable for anyone who's played the Playstation 2 title. Even manga fans who aren't familiar with the Castelvania series can appreciate the good looks of Hector and his rival, Issac, who adorn the front cover. The first four pages of the manga are glossy and in full-colour, which is always a nice lead-in. The back cover, however, is disappointingly empty and contains only the story summary. Granted, it's probably supposed to be dark and spooky, but it's just blank and boring. There's no bonus content aside from a small text preview of the next issue.
The characters from Castlevania: Curse of Darkness are captured adequately in manga format from Ayami Kojima's original designs. Hector, Issac and Lord Dracula himself are easily recognisable. The new characters introduced for the manga and the surrounding scenery are a mixed bag. New arrivals like “Ted” look generic and the countryside doesn't particularly capture 15th century Europe. There are some cool monsters and demons, however. Of note is the appearance of a hulking werewolf towards the middle of the volume.
The fonts used are fairly typical of Tokyopop, with good characters speaking in a normal font and bad characters using a “dripping” font that indicates they have bad intentions, just in case there's any confusion. Also true to Tokyopop's style, sound effects are left unaltered and untranslated without footnotes.
The character's speech is pretty bland, with nothing indicating that the reader is in the 15th century or the Carpathian Mountains. The speech and slang is fairly up-to-date, and the manga's token kid character, Ted, swears and mouths off to his Church-adhering elders with no negative consequences or punishment.
In the Wallachia region of Europe, dark forces are conspiring to spread across the continent. Troubled by the rise of evil, the Greek Orthodox Church sends out legions of soldiers, but none ever return.
Ted, a young boy living in a village along the Romanian border, waits for his mercenary father to return from the fighting, but he never arrives. Instead, a strange man with silver hair wanders into town and stops long enough for his wounds to heal. The seemingly harmless man, Hector, is actually being chased down by Dracula's own army, as he holds an incredible power. At the head of the operation is Hector's rival, the red-haired Issac.
When a werewolf attacks an innocent village maiden, Ted learns about the ultimate power from the silver-haired stranger. Such power, Hector warns, means “cursing God and yourself.” Hector deals with the werewolf, but Issac isn't far behind.
I've long been a fan of the Castlevania series, since its conception on the NES. The series offers a rich history for a manga writer to work with, as well as unique character designs to draw upon. The potential is limitless. But when the manga introduced a smart-mouthed bright-eyed kid named Ted, I knew I was in trouble.
As a game, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness wasn't especially well-received, but it contained enough story fodder with Hector's slain wife and the Innocent Devils to make a competent story worth following. Throwing a kid in there is unnecessary pandering to a younger audience—which is odd, since most of the Castlevania titles beyond 1997's Symphony of the Night are not meant for a young audience. It's disappointing to see Castlevania thrown to a kid like so many other great properties.